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Blackhawks top pick Nick Schmaltz comfortable with faster pro pace

PHILADELPHIA PA - JUNE 27:  Nick Schmaltz Chicago Blackhawks poses for portrait during 2014 NHL Draft Wells Fargo Center

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 27: Nick Schmaltz of the Chicago Blackhawks poses for a portrait during the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center on June 27, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 498655293

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Updated: July 17, 2014 11:44PM

For Nick Schmaltz, the idea of being the Blackhawks’ 2014 first-round draft pick sunk in slowly during the organization’s prospect camp this week.

It helped that he donned the Hawks sweater when the week began. By Thursday, essentially the last day of full practices, nerves had given way to a playmaking ability that assuredly reminded Schmaltz of why he was picked.

The only formality for Schmaltz might be to meet Patrick Kane, who is his favorite player. Schmaltz, who is from the Madison, Wisconsin, area, always has been a Hawks fan.

“First-class organization,” Schmaltz said. “They treat us like pros here. Wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

The week provided Schmaltz his first taste of professional hockey before he begins his collegiate career at North Dakota.

Unlike most of the prospects thrust into the Hawks’ pool of teenagers and players in their early 20s, Schmaltz welcomed the noticeably faster pace at which they played, something most prospects struggle to grasp.

“That helps my game as well because when you’re playing fast, you can make plays and a lot of odd-man rushes,” Schmaltz said. “I like playing fast, and it helps me raise my game.”

Schmaltz realized he felt most comfortable when scrimmages started Tuesday. That’s when his game really opened up.

“Being able to show your game and make plays and be the person I am on the ice,” Schmaltz said. “Once I got in a game situation, I could prove who I am.”

Schmaltz had planned to attend the Hawks convention, which opens Friday, but family commitments will pull him away.


Twitter: @SethGruen

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